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Home > Media

TVJism: Teachers' TV

11 February 2005

Once upon a time, the only TV that teachers needed was Words & Pictures, and ropey dramas like The Man on the Motorbike or The King's Dragon, which amply occupied half an hour thanks to the low expectations of 1970s children. A bottle of icy milk, a bag of Space Raiders and some sub-Tomorrow People twaddle about a 'cloud bursting' machine and we were happy. Well, not happy, but we were certainly quiet.

But times change, and now a television station entirely devoted to teachers has been launched. Teachers' TV will cost the government 20m a year, according to BBC Online, but it will be editorially independent, and will offer advice and televised discussion 24 hours a day on digital and satellite channels.

Unfortunately, you just know what the channel is going to be like - it'll be tucked away in the high numbers of the Sky package, along with the Community Channel and Information TV. The same programmes will be repeated several times a day, and they'll be crap. By way of comparison, a fairly cheap sitcom costs 150,000 per episode. There ain't going to be a lot of bang for the bucks
poured into Teachers' TV.

And as it happens, teachers are already fairly well served by the media, certainly compared with, say, taxidermists or child molesters. The big teaching issues are covered by the mainstream media, there's the Times Education Supplement, the Guardian Education section, and one or two magazines aimed specifically at teachers. That's enough, surely?

But the wastefulness of the project really emerges if you do the sums. If you divide 20 million by 22,000 (roughly the salary vaunted by recent teaching ads) you get 909 - in other words the TV channel would pay the annual salary of more than 900 teachers. This isn't a vast number, but also consider the difference this many new teachers would make each year. That's an actual difference in the real world, not medialand.

Yet again the government has demonstrated its obsession with the media. New Labour are like bad managers - they love being involved with big, sexy projects, especially anything to do with the media, but they're slightly incompetent and hate doing the dull, necessary stuff, ie. actual work.



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